Tue, May 06, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Chen urges nation to fight SARS

ENCOURAGEMENT The president sounded a note of compassion by saying he hoped that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan would all triumph over the disease

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday called on the public to support a national campaign against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

"Everybody should wash their hands frequently, take their own temperature and wear masks to fight against SARS," Chen said.

Chen said he hopes that people around the country would give the government their full support.

In contrast to his previous criticisms of Beijing's handling of the SARS outbreak, Chen said that he wished Taiwan, China and Hong Kong will win their campaigns against SARS.

Chen expressed concern for Taiwanese businesspeople in China and the Chinese people on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, saying that there are no boundaries when it comes to people's health.

"SARS is not an incurable disease and a healthy lifestyle may help prevent one catching SARS," Chen said.

He said he was proud of the nation's health care workers and said he sympathized with those who were in quarantine.

Chen made the appeal when he meet with Chou Hsiu-chen (周繡珍), governor of the Republic of China chapter of the Kiwanis International and other senior executives of the private organization.

During the meeting, the Kiwanis' representatives donated NT$3.5 million (US$100,000) to the nation's campaign against the potentially fatal disease.

As the SARS outbreak took a turn for the worse over the past few days, the government has stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the highly contagious disease.

All Kiwanis executives were required to have their temperatures checked before entering the Presidential Office.

"I'm sorry for inconvenience caused by such screening measures," Chen told his guests, adding that even he himself had to take the test.

"I must take my temperature before entering my office every morning," he said.

Chen said he appreciates the Kiwanis donation in support of medical workers and volunteers who are on the front line in the battle against SARS.

"I hope that all of our fellow countrymen will support the current fund-raising campaign to facilitate the battle against the disease," he said.

Chen said everybody should live up to their responsibility in fighting the disease, but cautioned people to not mistake fever or pneumonia for SARS.

He also asked the government to do their best to prevent SARS from spreading and take aggressive measures if necessary.

The Executive Yuan has issued 7 million SARS-prevention handbooks to help households around the country protect themselves from the disease.

"The tougher the challenge, the stronger the Taiwanese will be," Chen said.

Chen emphasized that he too had to take part in prevention efforts by occasionally wearing a mask and having his temperature taken.

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